Family Values 5K (again!)

Running is by no means a “free” activity. I mistakenly thought that it was – I mean, you throw on some sneaks, head out the front door, run, get home, shower. But then you find out (via shin splints) that those sneaks you already had on hand are most definitely not intended for running. So you buy new running shoes. Then you realize that the clothes you have are awful: sweat soaking, chafing, and just uncomfortable… and that sports bra is giving absolutely no support. Now you’re buying a new sweat-wicking running wardrobe. Then there are activity trackers, water bottles, headbands, special socks, anti-chafing sticks, and a hundred other doodads that make the “free” sport more enjoyable.

Eventually, if you’re like most runners, you’ll find yourself signing up for a race. These cost money too – I’ve paid anywhere from $15 – $125 – and can come with all sorts of goodies and cool medals and free post-race mimosas. These events can be a ton of fun, and I have yet to participate in one I haven’t enjoyed. The energy at these events can be infectious, but none of them can compete with the emotion that comes with participating in a race that benefits others in a charitable way. And one of my favorites is the Sheridan House Family Values 5K.

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I’ve run this race for the past two years, (see my posts here and here), with the one I ran last weekend being my 3rd time participating. It’s a simple run, just three laps that take you through the front and the side of the Sheridan House property, then out along the road, then back into the property again. There’s only one water station, which you pass three times as you loop. As the name of the event implies, it’s very family-focused, and without a doubt you’re going to find kids on bikes, kids on scooters, and even kids running the course alongside their parents. There are timing chips on the backs of the bibs (which are turned in after crossing the finish line), and medals for the kids when they finish. As a side note, I’m a little worried… the past two years I’ve received a medal, and I’m not sure if it’s because I look like I’m 12 years old or if I mistakenly took one that was meant for a real kid! 😮

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It’s a really basic run. No gimmicks, no holiday-themed color scheme. But it’s got heart – more heart than any other run I’ve participated in. ❤

Sheridan House Family Ministries serves the local community by meeting the needs of children and families. As stated on their website, they work to train parents on how to lead their families in a godly way; to do marriage according to God’s plan and to raise up children to take responsibility for themselves and to be tomorrow’s leaders  – not followers. They offer counseling services, parenting workshops, a ministry for single mothers, marriage and a residential program for kids in middle school who are demonstrating behavioral issues. It’s a truly amazing organization.

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The best part – my favorite part – about this 5K run (and their mud run, the Goliath Gauntlet), is that 100% of the money raised goes right back into the organization. The 5K run is technically free, but because this is a fundraiser they encourage all participants to create a page to help raise money. Every dollar raised goes directly back into the organization and its ministries. They don’t even charge for the photos and videos they take during the 5K event, which is practically unheard of in the race-running circuit.

In the past I’ve participated with my family, but this year I ran with my friend Jen as a sort of warm-up run for another half we were running the following day. We had pre-registered online a few days before, and made our voluntary donations to Sheridan House online during the registration process. We arrived about 20 minutes before the start time of 9a, checked in to receive our bibs, and picked up our long-sleeve event shirts and bags. After dropping them off back at the car we headed to the starting line, listened to the anthem, and then ran our 3.1. When we were done we grabbed our water and left. That was it!

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The biggest difference between this run and others is that I know my money is being put to good use in my local community. I’m friends with someone who went through the Sheridan House residential program when he was a teen, and he gives the organization a lot of credit for turning his life around. I’ve been to some of the marriage workshops and listened to some of the parenting podcasts, and I’ve always felt encouraged afterwards. I’ve personally benefitted from what this organization does, and I’m more than happy to donate to them.

Running is not as free as it seems on the surface. But like any other hobby, if you love it then you’re going to spend money on it. My advice? Be sure that some of the money you’re spending is supporting a cause you believe in. Those runs end up giving you much more than you’re paying for, I guarantee it. ❤

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A Harry Potter Dream Come True

I’ve had this post on my to-do list for a long time now, and normally I think that a year is probably about 10 months too long to wait to write about something. But in light of Alan Rickman’s recent death and how much the Harry Potter series has meant to my daughter, I thought I’d share it anyway.

When Emily was in second grade, we bought her the first Harry Potter book for Christmas. She devoured it, and eagerly ripped through the entire 7-book series, reading about a book a month. After each book was completed we’d let her watch the corresponding movie, which basically turned her into a total expert on all things Harry Potter by the time she finished the final movie.

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Harry Potter infiltrated every part of her life. She’d make lists of spells and hang them on her bulletin board in her room. She’d write stories for school that were inspired by the books. She’d always loved owls, but after seeing the first movie she renamed her beloved stuffed owl Hedwig and always had to have her by her side while reading the books or watching the movies. There were Harry Potter teacher gifts. We had never-ending conversations about the series, major discussions on character motives, and imagined different outcomes for various situations the characters encountered. And of course we ate Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 😀

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It was a no-brainer that we were gonna have to take her to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 🙂

We really wanted the trip to be as special for Emily as possible, and Julia was still too young to ride pretty much everything. My parents kindly agreed to watch Julia for a day so that Emily, Jay and I could fully enjoy the park together. The next time we were at their house for a visit we woke Emily early in the morning, piled in the car (with Hedwig, of course), and headed to Orlando!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is spread across two of Universal’s parks, with London, Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, and King’s Cross Station all on the Universal Studios side, and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade on the Islands of Adventure side. Jay and I thought that it would be more fun to start where Harry Potter himself began his adventure – in London – and then proceed from there, roughly mimicking Harry’s journey.

First we stopped to chat with the shrunken head on the Night Bus, which was located in London…

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…and then went through the magical bricked entrance to Diagon Alley!

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We hit the super awesome ride at Gringott’s straight away, then headed off to Ollivander’s to let a wand choose Emily. 😉

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If you purchase a specific type of wand, you can actually “cast spells” around Diagon Alley and watch things magically happen, like making feathers float. It’s pretty awesome, and in my opinion worth a little extra so that you can discover tons of hidden secrets!

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It seems the power eventually went to her head. 😀

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After exploring everything we could, we stepped through platform 9 3/4 and hopped the Hogwarts Express to the other side of Harry’s world.

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We immediately went to one of the places she’d wanted to see the most – Hagrid’s house. It’s not an attraction you can enter, but it was pretty amazing to be able to check out the exterior. Hagrid’s was situated near one of the rides, and while we were in line for the ride Emily was able to see one of her favorite creatures, Buckbeak. ❤

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Then it was off to Hogwarts! A word of advice – don’t have too much or too little food in your belly before getting on the ride at Hogwart’s. It’s crazy fun, but crazy intense!

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We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks (which Emily still talks about a year later) with some non-gill-inducing Gilly water – then hit the rides some more before heading back to Diagon Alley.

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We couldn’t help having some fun with the window displays at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole day!

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Emily had hoped and prayed that she’d be able to find a stuffed Buckbeak while we were there, but unfortunately they were completely sold out. She was a little bummed, until she turned around and noticed that they had Crookshanks. That was easy. 🙂

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Before we knew it, the day was over and it was time to head back to my parents’ house and to Julia. We can’t begin to express how proud we are of Emily. She’s so kind to everyone around her, so willing to help, and works so hard in school. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to reward her with something that meant so much to her. We love knowing that she’ll remember this trip for a long time, and that she had that time with us all to herself. ❤

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The Movies I can’t WAIT to Watch

Jay and I have a list of movies that we are dying to share with our girls. Movies we can’t wait to share with them – to laugh with, to cry with, to discuss with, to debate with. Emily’s a little older now, and the list of movies she’s seen has increased dramatically over the years. We are loving the special late-nights with her, especially now that they aren’t full of cartoon characters and super basic plot lines. (Sorry, Disney). 😀

As Emily’s grown we’ve started allowing her to watch movies with more adult story lines and intense action scenes. We are still pretty cautious of what she’s viewing, but we know our daughter and know what she’s able to handle. For example, she was completely fine to watch each Harry Potter film after reading the corresponding book, but we’re a little wary of letting her watch the Lord of the Rings series because it might be a little intense for her – even though we know other 9-year olds who have seen them all without a problem.

But even though we feel that she’s finally old enough to see more grown-up movies like Jurassic Park and the Star Wars saga, there are still a few that we are waiting to enjoy with her – and Julia – in the future. Some of these are classics, some are personal faves, and some are just movies I’ve watched since I was a kid and I want my girls to have the same childhood memories I did. 🙂

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Although some of these movies have a PG rating, we feel that some of the material (language, drug/alcohol/sexual references, etc.) might be inappropriate, and if the movie is fairly free of those then our reason for holding out is that we feel it’s just going to be over their heads altogether – and then really, what’s the point? We want to enjoy these movies with our girls at a level where we can use them as conversation pieces, not just as random fun things to do. So we will wait. Sigh.

Between you and me, a teeny part of me can’t wait for them to grow up… but don’t tell anyone I said that or I might get thrown out of the Mommahood Club forever! 😀

Thankful for the Captured Moments

Kids can be a total pain in the butt – especially when you pull out the camera. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t give birth to children who know how to look into the lens with super sweet and genuine smiles on command. I don’t blame them that their mother doesn’t have the slightest clue about angles or backdrops or flashes or anything photo-related – those are completely my fault. But I do blame them for thinking that “freeze” means “dance around wildly”, that “say cheese” means “give me the most annoyed look ever,” and that “hug your sister” means “please hug her so hard you knock her into that massive mud puddle on the ground.”

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No, in our house beautiful photographic moments are almost always immediately ruined by the arrival of a camera. We have fun with it though, and even though most of my photos are blurry, out of focus, and full of weird faces I love knowing that who we are has been accurately captured forever.

But every so often I manage to snap a photo that freezes a perfect moment for all time. Usually this means the girls aren’t aware that a camera was present, and so the image collected is one of absolute genuineness – the definition of a candid.

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While I love all the photos in this post, the following are my absolute top favorite candids ever, with a little backstory on each. Be warned, these photos might melt your heart… they sure do mine.

❤ Julia had colic as a baby and cried constantly. She quieted down before I got to her room one morning, and when I peeked in I saw that Emily had brought in the stool so she could give her sister the pacifier. I think this is one of first candid photos I ever took of the girls together, and I love that you can’t even see Julia in it.

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❤ On a family vacation to Savannah we stayed in a hotel room that was a bit too small for the hotel-provided crib and Emily’s cot. We were worried that the girls would play all night and that none of us would get any sleep, but especially that Julia would bother Emily all night since their beds were bumped right up beside each other. Shortly after getting them both settled down, we looked over to see that Emily was already passed out. But instead of bothering her sister and waking her up, we saw Julia’s little arm extended out of the crib, offering Emily a pacifier. Yes, I died in a puddle of Mommy Mush.

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❤ Emily is a natural-born nurturer, always looking out for Julia and wanting to protect her. The girls rarely get sick, and when they do it’s almost always completely out of nowhere with very little indication an illness is on the way. When I went into Julia’s room to wake her for school one morning I found the girls like this and rushed to my room to get the camera. Julia had become sick during the night, and when Emily had gone in to read to her in the morning Julia passed right out in her lap, exhausted from her sick bug.

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❤ This last favorite is just more evidence of Emily’s love for Julia, who had just received a couple of shots at her doctor’s visit. Julia didn’t want me to comfort her, she only wanted her big sister.

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I’m thankful for these moments more than I can express, and I’m sure every mother out there completely understands why. The girls are 9 and 4 now, and as their interests begin to differ and they begin to grow more independently from each other the opportunities for these beautiful moments will begin to dwindle as well. I know there will be fewer and fewer photos on my camera as the girls grow and live their lives, and more and more photos on their cameras of people I won’t know and places I won’t be with them. And that’s okay – it’s part of letting them grow.

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But for now, I’ll take as many pictures as I can – both candid and cheesy-posed. And I’ll cherish the moments I’ve already captured – for myself as much as for them. ❤

Julia-Speak

It’s one thing to mispronounce words, and it’s another to have your own phrases and ways of describing things. Julia’s only 4, but she’s got her own linguistic style. And it never fails to make us smile.

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For example, a common Julia-phrase while reading a book is scoop the page.” This is her version of saying turn the page,” but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it, because when you go to turn a page your hand sort of scoops the paper up. What doesn’t make sense is that she sometimes applies this to watching TV, and she’ll ask us to scoop the channel or scoop the shows.” I just can’t bring myself to correct her though. (PS – Here’s one of my all-time favorite videos of her reading. 🙂 )

The other day we were at the table talking about something fun we all liked doing this summer, and after sharing hers she told us all that it’s her favorite because it’s the much most more funnest ever.” How can you disagree with logic like that? 😀

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But my favorite is when she talks about decorating the bed.” In Julia-speak, this is her way of saying “make the bed,” but I’m guessing she has issues with that phrasing since she’s not actually creating a bed out of thin air. I just love it when she runs up to me with a huge smile on her face and says, “Mommy! I decorated my bed all by myself!” 🙂 In all honesty, I think I like her way of saying it better.

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Then there’s also the seemingly endless list of words that she just can’t seem to pronounce no matter how many times we practice with her:

  • wusually (usually)
  • bekbast (breakfast)
  • amember (remember)
  • pocksicle (popsicle)
  • Valenstime’s Day
  • instrodoosting (introducing)

IMG_7970I think my favorite mispronunciation though was when my best friend and I were planning a trip to New York and I was trying to explain to Julia that I’d be gone for a few days. She looked up at me and said, “Have fun in You Nork, Mommy!” Oh, my heart. ❤

When Emily was younger she of course struggled with word pronunciations too, and to this day I can remember the day she stopped mispronouncing “tarantula.” For the longest time she called it a “tralantrula” and no matter how much she begged I refused to tell her the right way to say it. Then one day she got in the car after school, looked right in my eyes, and said it correctly. I was crying as I drove out of the parking lot. My baby girl had lost her last word. 😥

It’s been almost 9 months since Sanne and I took that trip, and to this day Julia still can’t say “New York.” I think I’m going to leave it that way – I wouldn’t change this girl’s unique style of talking for anything. Her sense of style… now that’s another thing entirely. 😀

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New Beginnings

My best friend’s eldest son and Emily share a birthday. It’s actually the reason she and I met – on a fertility/pregnancy/parenting community website, of all places! Her son, Benjamin, is a couple of hours older than Emily, and as she and I posted and commented on things relating to our pregnancies and growing infants, we also stalked each other’s comments and posts. It was pretty normal behavior though, everyone was curious about how everyone else’s kids (and bellies) were doing. When Benjamin and Emily were nearing three years old, she reached out to me directly because her husband was offered a job in my city. We decided to try and meet in person, and a short while after her family moved down she and I met up at a local park with our kids. Six years later we are the best of friends – and still talking about our pregnancies and infants. 🙂

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We’ve talked so much about our kids and our experiences raising them (she’s got two other boys, too) that even though we didn’t really meet each other until that first playdate at the park it almost feels like we’ve been comparing notes since the day we gave birth. Which, I guess in a weird way we kinda were through the website, but for me it makes her the only friend who has not only “known” Emily from day one, but has also been moving down the parenting road at the same pace I have.

And now our birthday twins are 9.

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A few months ago she sent me a link to a blog post she’d read from a mom to her 9-year old, giving advice to her daughter on the next years of her life. The post was beautiful, highlighting key points that I also hope my daughter learns and embraces and eventually lives out herself. She called this time in her daughter’s life “halftime.”

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous now that we’ve officially reached halftime. I’m not sure I’m ready to handle the next stage of raising-her-to-adulthood. You know… get her through her tween years… pre-teen years… TEEN years… then send her off to college to start figuring things out for herself.

Nope. Definitely not ready.

Years 1-9 were easy. Babies are basic, toddlers are cute. I’d taught Kindergarten and First Grade for a while, so I wasn’t worried about those years either. Raising Emily up to this point has been fun – arts & crafts, playdates where I get to hang with the other moms, splash pads, picking out her clothes for her, fixing her hair into pigtails. A colorful, character-filled Band-Aid made any boo-boo feel better.DSC_0426-3Now she does crafts on her own. Playdates are drop-offs, and I’m not needed beyond getting snacks every 15 minutes. Splash pads are now much larger water parks, where I’m lucky to get a glimpse of her waving at me before shooting down a huge tube slide or as she darts past me headed to another area of the park. And forget picking out her clothes – I have a general sense of what she does and doesn’t like, but for the most part she just throws together a cute t-shirt and jeans. Accessories are a distant blip in her past, and she won’t let me do anything to her hair but brush it.

I’ve been told that now is where raising a daughter gets tougher (although I’m confident that raising a son comes with it’s own challenges). There’s boys and independence, self-expression and the scary, scary “P” word. 😉 There are peer pressures to avoid, opinions to form, and experiences I’m not sure I’m ready for her to have but that might be essential for her to become the woman God wants her to be. Her first job, her first car, her first love, her first heartbreak. And not a Band-Aid in the world that can fix that kind of pain.

I’m as ready as I can be though. I’m just going to do everything I’ve already been doing: listen. Model. Give space. Protect. Teach. Guide. Love. Be present. Be firm. Be fair. Encourage. Care. Advise. And above all, pray.

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And, of course, I plan to keep leaning on good friends who are also going through this new stage of parenting right along with me. After all, misery loves company, right? 😀

My Favorite Part of the Day

When I started this blog, my tagline was “Finding Smiles in Everyday Life”. I wanted to write a blog about finding those sliver linings, those beautiful and joyful moments that occur if we just take the time to look for them, acknowledge them, and allow them to be absorbed.

In the end though, it just didn’t seem like me. It was a little too perky, a little too chipper. I definitely make it a daily practice to look for those sunshine-y moments, but I didn’t want anyone to think I walk around with a permagrin. I’ve also got a cynical, sarcastic, realistic side that refuses to shut down no matter how huge my smile. As Jay says, I’ve got a sassy side. Fortunately for me, he likes it. 😀

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t see life’s highlights when they occur. Despite all those lovely qualities I mentioned above, there are still a number of daily occurrences that are sure to cause me to smile: getting the kitchen cleaned before taking Emily to school in the morning… Julia’s spontaneous kisses… Jay walking in the door at the end of the day… finishing a running event… scheduling a night out with a friend.

But if there’s one thing I had to pin down, one thing that earns the trophy for being my absolute favorite thing in my day, it’s picking Emily up from school. I’ve mentioned before that I love sitting in the car line, and that a big part of the enjoyment I get from it is that I’m able to utilize that time to get things done. But to be honest, getting to the school early means that I’m already parked at the dismissal gate… which means I get to see Emily even sooner.

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Now, I am NOT that mushy momma. I like my “me-time,” I hated baby-wearing, and I’m not offended if my girls would rather play on their own or with a friend than be with me. It doesn’t bother me if we don’t snuggle during movie time, and when they get hurt I have no sympathy if it happened after I warned them a million times to be careful before that exact thing happened. I don’t even think about Emily all that much during the day (or Julia if I’m not with her), because I know that she’s safe and having fun.

But when the end of the school day rolls around, something lights up inside of me. Knowing that she’s about to get in the car and that I’m about to be reunited with part of my heart just makes me so incredibly happy. I’m sure it helps that she ‘s a good student and genuinely loves school, but to be honest I think even if I knew she wasn’t a big fan of it I’d still be just as excited to see her.

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Next year Julia starts Pre-K, which means I get to do a second pick-up everyday. The following year she’ll be in Kindergarten, and the girls will be at the same school and I’ll be back to just one pickup again. But to know that I’ll be getting both girls back with me every day, well, I think my heart might just bust with joy. ❤

I Wanna Play, Too!

I’m sitting in one of those indoor kiddie fun zones, watching my daughters play. We find ourselves at places like these from time to time for various reasons – birthday parties, days off from school, rainy-day playdates, Groupon deals too good to pass up, etc. This time it’s a giant room filled with humongous bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses. For $20 the girls can play as long as they like, and I get to enjoy either 2 hours of great conversation with a friend or some much-needed time to myself.

But almost every time we come, what I really want to do is join my girls. I want to stuff my shoes in a cubbyhole, throw on a pair of cute socks with funny animals on them, and have the time of my life jumping, bouncing, and making a total fool of myself. I want to shoot down the slick yellow slide so lightning fast that I fly off and land right on my bum. I want to giggle like a schoolgirl when I can’t keep my balance while bouncing. I want to go absolutely crazy and not care what anyone else thinks. I want to play.

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Instead, I’m sitting on a hard blue plastic chair, jotting down these playtime fantasies in one of Jay’s notebooks. Although it’s relaxing, and I’m definitely enjoying myself, it’s just not what I’m wanting to do. I can’t go play with the girls, no matter how much I want to. Being a grown up means that there are some grown-up restrictions, and that some things just cannot be. Case in point:

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  • There are giant signs on the equipment telling me that I’m not allowed. I don’t think my girls will understand that we’ve been asked to leave because I couldn’t follow the rules and behave myself. This place used to let parents join in (as evident in the picture below), but I guess the rules have changed. 😦
  • Who would watch my purse? On this occasion I’d brought the girls on my own for a bit. Those cubbyholes are great for shoes, but I’m not about to stuff my nice purse in one. It’s one thing if a kid walks off with Julia’s $3 Old Navy flipflops, it’s quite another if I lose my Kindle, phone, and wallet. And keys. The girls like it here, but I think they’d get sick of it the second they realized we couldn’t leave because someone had “accidentally” driven the wrong car home.
  • The girls need their space. Yes, I could follow them around and join in, and I’m sure that they would get a great deal of joy out of watching me be completely silly with them. But, on the flip side, it won’t allow them the room they need to “spread their wings.” They need some parent-free time to develop their imaginations, invent their own games, settle their own problems. No one wants their mom breathing down their neck every minute… it kinda hinders things a bit.
  • Other parents might have a problem with it. Yeah, I know I’m not supposed to care what other people think. But I’m pretty sure it would creep me out to see some other parent hanging out in a bounce house with my girls, so I try to show the same respect to them. Not to mention the dirty looks I’d get when another kid starts trying to drag her 80-year grandma on the equipment because “their mom is doing it!”
  • Truth? I’d be exhausted in 5 minutes. No amount of running prepares you for monkeybars, bounce houses, or the number of steps you’ll be required to climb in order to fully satisfy your child’s slide expectations. And even if I could somehow manage to do all that, I wouldn’t have energy to drive them to Burger King afterward.

So there you have it. All the reasons I have to resist the urge to join my girls on playgrounds. The thing is, despite the fact that I’m not always allowed or that it might not be the best idea, I love that I still want to. I know there are a good many fuddy-duddy parents out there who have zero interest in doing anything remotely immature. They want no part in coloring, Barbies, building forts and hiding in them, playing tag, Legos, and especially not playing on jungle gyms and inflatable obstacle courses. I’m glad that I haven’t reached that yet, and I hope I never do.

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I just need to find a place that lets me play too. 😀

PS – That last picture was taken before they stopped letting adults play. Stinkers. 😛

Rules for Living with a Princess

A while back I wrote the Rules for Living with an Entomologist, focusing on our older daughter Emily’s ongoing love of insects. It seems only fair that I write one that focuses on our younger daughter Julia’s ongoing love: princess dresses.

IMG_4340_2When Julia was 2 and a half, she received her first princess dress, Merida (from Disney’s Brave). She had received a gift card from a friend, and when we went to the store so she could spend her money she was dead set on getting that dress. We bought it, took it home, she wore it once, and then refused to wear it again. That is, until 6 months later when she received a Rapunzel dress for her birthday. That was the day Julia came out of the closet – literally – and has worn a princess dress almost every day since. As Emily hated costumes of any kind (we had to force her to dress up for Halloween), this was new territory for me. But I’ve learned a lot over the past year, and I’ve made careful notes for anyone else out there with a princess-in-training. 🙂

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RULE #1 – THE DRESSES ARE NOT COSTUMES
I cannot stress this enough. They are clothes. You will never convince your dress-loving child that there is any difference between something you would wear on Easter Sunday and her Elsa gown (complete with sparkling, glittering snowflakes, lace trim, and train). However, she will somehow still recognize that the cute bunny ears you want her to wear for the Easter photo are, in fact, not a headband, no matter how much you try to convince her otherwise. No, these dresses are perfectly acceptable attire for any occasion, including the beach, weddings, funerals, and going to the dentist. And, of course, playing outside.

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RULE #2 – YOU ARE NOW THE ROYAL LAUNDERER
Ok, so I know you’ve already been doing the laundry for your household, but get ready to kick it up a notch. Princess dresses are, shall we say, delicately made. Washing these dresses in the same load as anything with a button or zipper or embellishment on it – no matter how small – is likely to rip your dress to shreds. Not to mention you’ll find glitter on absolutely every single piece of clothing that was washed in the same load as the dress, even if it never had glitter on it before (sorry about the socks, Jay). You’ll soon discover that in order to save alligator tears (yours), you’ll be much better off washing all those dresses in a load of their own. Yup, you heard me. One extra load of laundry. PS – a tip from an expert: putting them in the dryer sometimes makes them warp funny, which is why my laundry area looks like this each week:

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RULE #3 – YOU ARE ALSO THE ROYAL TAILOR
Now, logic would have it that if your kid is a princess then you must be the king or queen. And while this is true, this does not necessarily mean that you’ve got the finances to back up the title – which is the situation Jay and I find ourselves in. To avoid going completely broke, you’ll need to do a dress inspection after every laundry cycle. Look for rips, tears, places where the dress makes her look more like a pauper than a princess. Sometimes that means cutting off trim entirely (notice the gold trim at the bottom of Merida’s dress has been removed in the photo below), sometimes that means busting out a needle & thread and stitching it back together. Thank goodness for the car line.

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RULE #4 – YOU WILL TALK TO STRANGERS MORE THAN YOU THINK
If you are shy or introverted, get ready for your worst nightmare to come true, because everyone you encounter while in the company of your princess will want to talk to her (and by default, you) about her gown. Sometimes you’ll get off lucky with a sweet smile or a quick comment, but more often than not strangers will want to have full-blown conversations about the crazy things their kids used to wear, how expensive the dresses are and how poorly they are made (see RULE #3), and/or how they just bought the exact same dress for their granddaughter. But my favorite is when they’ll try to show off how much they know about the princess who made the dress famous and are completely wrong. Know your princesses, people – just because the dress is blue doesn’t mean it’s Elsa (does anyone remember a gal named Cinderella?), and you’re sending me home with a grumpy princess who can’t understand why everyone has been calling her Elsa all day.

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RULE #5 – YOU WILL NEED YOUR CAMERA ALL THE TIME
Yeah, pretty much everything looks adorable if it’s done in a princess dress. Your kid spills their Cheerios all over the floor in their jammies and you get frustrated. Your kid spills their Cheerios in a princess gown, and you get the camera. Not only that, but your kid knows they are “so beautiful” and will demand that you take pictures of them doing the most ordinary things. Sure, I don’t mind taking another picture of you standing in the grass in your Anna gown, Julia. I only have 3,458 already.

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So there you have it. But before I sign off, let me leave you with one last word of advice: don’t think for one minute that dressing like a princess will make your child act like a princess. I honestly still can’t figure out how I ended up with such a girly little brute. But I will say, she certainly has perfected that sweet princess smile ! 😀

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Mom Fails

If you’ve got kids, you already know what I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet my entire pile of clean laundry that something you know you parentally stink at just jumped into your head.

Well, for some bizarre reason I feel compelled to share some of mine here. Maybe it’s because acknowledgement is an early step towards correcting the problems. More likely it’s so that my girls can’t throw them at me later in life… because if they do I can just remind them that I wrote the blog post on my mom fails well before they were aware of them.

So here goes.

  1. I don’t always make Julia wear socks with her shoes.
    Ridiculously smelly feet run on my side of the family (that was a pretty good pun, right?), and I’m well aware that socks are supposed to help reduce the stench that is potent enough to outdo the work of four burning Yankee candles. But here’s the thing: on our feet they really don’t make that much of a difference. Trust me on this, because when I was teaching my smelly feet were the objects of one of our science experiments and my students proved this to be true. Most of the time, yes, Julia wears socks. But then she doesn’t take them off, and she runs outside with them (because we boycott shoes outside unless Daddy is with us) and the socks get filthy. Then we need to go somewhere, and I’m too impatient to wait for her to find another pair. So the shoes go on, sans socks. And yes, the smell is nearly lethal, which is why you can usually find a pair of shoes full of baking soda outside our back door.
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  2. My girls’ clothes are almost always too small.
    I truly have no idea how you know if clothes fit kids properly. Sure, there are telltale signs… jacket sleeves shouldn’t stop at the elbow, socks should cover the heels, and pants should button without the elastic-in-the-buttonhole-loop method so fondly used by pregnant women. But beyond that, if it goes over the head, it fits. If you can sit and it doesn’t hurt your belly, it fits. If they are pajamas that no one but us will ever see… well, let’s just say that our 8-year-old just tossed a pair of 5T pajamas. I am HORRIBLE at this. I’m going to guess that about 95% of the time I look at my girls and realize that something’s just not right – then a few minutes later it dawns on me that they are wearing something they received as a birthday gift 2 years ago. Then I reference old photos and see the difference in fit, get incredibly embarrassed, and let them know they can NEVER wear that article of clothing again. Check out Julia’s pants in this photo… those aren’t capris. I know. Shameful.
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  3. Raw carrots and frozen corn are staple veggies in our house.
    Now before I get slammed, I’m aware that corn is a starch. But they sell it with the frozen veggies – right next to the frozen peas, which I know are vegetables – so I’m counting it. Also, I’m aware of the need for variety, and I do serve up other options. Emily’s pretty great about eating whatever veggies we offer up, but Julia (remember, she’s 3), has trouble eating “circles” (peas), “ovals” (lima beans), and “string beans.” Our rule is no dessert unless everything is eaten, and it’s their choice if they want dessert or not. Sometimes if I know they don’t love the veggie-of-the-night, I’ll make dessert super-awesome and put it right in front of them on the table, which works almost every time. But other nights I don’t feel like waiting 3 hours for Julia to eat one “circle” at a time or hear Emily ask if she really has to eat them all, explaining that she really wants dessert but just can’t do it. So I serve what I know they’ll eat without fail: raw carrots or frozen corn. Both of my girls are natural bunnies and adore carrots. The frozen corn started when Julia was teething – Jay gave her a few pieces since they thaw so quickly and were smaller than Cheerios, and she loved them. The girls will eat these veggies just about any time of day. Sometimes my girls just amaze me with their good manners… their kindness towards each other… their beauty… their obedience. Those days I want to make dessert as achievable as possible, so I hijack the system and give them what they like. It’s not my fault they amaze me so often!
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After typing all this I’m completely wiped. I’ve barely started in on my many Mom Fails, but I’ve got to call it quits already. It’s not easy airing your dirty laundry, and I think I’d rather do this in small stages – much like I do my actual dirty laundry. But don’t worry… I’ve already started on my next post… there’s loads more where that came from.

PS – You know it’s a successful post when there are TWO awesome puns. 😀
PSS – Thanks for ignoring my car floor in the first picture (if you missed it, don’t go back to look). Guess I know what I’ll be working on tomorrow. 😦